Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! After missing last week, I wanted to be sure to be on top of this one. If you’re reading this first thing in the morning, then we may not have left yet, but if it’s mid-morning on the East Coast, you can envision us driving north blaring 90’s pop music!

Bring on the Hot Chocolate 15K (just hope I have a solid 9 miles left in my legs after the rest of the tri training this week)!

Here’s what I’m loving:

I know I’m a touch late on the board here, but is anyone else excited about the smaller iPhone? I semi-hate how big phones have gotten. All I want is for it to fit in my pocket!

These cookies from Picky Palate. Butterscotch is my favorite. In fact, oatmeal scotchies are my favorite type of cookies for that reason. I’m going to have to make these!

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This quote may need to be the theme of the weekend 🙂

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We’ve both been craving Greek food after eating at a local Greek restaurant here in town a couple weekends ago. With the warmer weather blessing us recently, these skewers from Recipe Runner may also need to make an appearance on the dinner menu.

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Lastly, someone needs to give me a kick in the butt to finally try making these. I had some time to kill in the airport recently, so I re-arranged some Pinterest boards. Now my macaron board is staring me in the face. Maybe these strawberry colada ones guys from Taste and Tell?

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Chicken Shawarma Fries with Mediterranean Salsa and Garlic Sauce

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Does anyone else falter slightly when asked which food is their favorite? Please tell me I’m not alone here.

I feel like I like so many different flavors that it is hard for me to pick, although I will admit that Mediterranean is amongst my favorite. As long as we stay away from goat cheese. I just can’t do the “tang” and that flavor stays on anything it remotely touches on a plate. Goat feta/cheese = not for me. Cow feta = I could eat with a spoon.

I first talked about these Shawarma topped fries in my menu plan, but at the time, I wasn’t sure if I would serve this over fries or rice. I will admit I’m glad I went the fry route. Crispy skinned potatoes also are awesome. That said, I’m sure rice would work too and as long as you’re using a packet, would make this quicker for a weeknight meal.

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My recipe tips would be to be sure to cut the potatoes on the thinner side as this will allow for more crisping. I would also recommend spraying your foil with non-stick spray for the fries. Mine stuck to the foil a bit despite the olive oil (which was slightly disappointing as I lost the crispy sides on some of them). I also subbed some of the mayo out for plain Greek yogurt on the sauce, and it worked well for us.

Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Chicken Shawarma Fries with Mediterranean Salsa and Garlic Sauce
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients:
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. allspice
pinch cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper
salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. thin boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-1/2 lbs (2 large) Russet potatoes
salt and pepper
non-stick spray

For the Mediterranean Salsa:
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup packed Parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 lemon, juiced
Cavendar’s Greek Seasoning, to taste

For the Garlic Sauce:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 lemon, juiced
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt
water to desired consistency

Add 1/2 lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, spices, and garlic to a large ziplock bag. Squash to combine. Add the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Lay the chicken in a single layer and bake for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through, flipping the chicken halfway through. Allow to set for 5-10 minutes prior to cutting into bite-sized pieces. Set aside

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.Re-spray the foil with non-stick spray (or replace the foil). Slice the potatoes thinly into fries (can leave the skins on). Toss in a bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until crispy, stirring halfway through.

Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the salsa in a medium bowl. Stir to combine and set aside. Add all the ingredients for the garlic sauce in a bowl. Mix. Add water, a little bit at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.

Top the fries with the chicken, salsa, and garlic sauce. Serve.

Meal Plan – Week 4

Planning simple meals this week – I’m out of town from Friday morning through Sunday evening, so the hubbs will be on his own. The translation of that is there will be lots of grilled sausages, grilled hamburgers, and possibly a pizza in the house. Good thing I made and froze some pizza dough for him this last weekend!

Our plans aside, this is what’s sounding good to me (and what I’ll be cooking for the meals I’m here!). On that note, I’m a little lighter on recipes this week (only picking out 4), since I’m planning on being out of town.

Cheeseburger Salad – There’s a similar recipe in the April Cooking Light issue that reminded me I haven’t made ours recently.

Greek Yogurt Egg Salad Sandwiches – I actually don’t have any leftover hardboiled eggs from Easter (we worked so we didn’t really celebrate), but I am planning to make a few as this sounds good and so easy! I won’t do this for a weeknight meal, but how good would this be with homemade French loaves?!?

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King Ranch Chicken and Quinoa Casserole in the April Cooking Light – Quinoa + casserole + Southwest flavor + a recipe that’ll make for some lunches with leftovers. Sold.

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CL April 16: Cook Once, Eat 3x-Quinoa

White Bean Vegetable Pizza – We have cheese and bean mixture leftover from the pizza this week. And it was delicious. Repeater!

Enjoy!

Thai Cashew Chopped Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing

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So, remember that Sweet Thai Chili Peanut Butter from Sprelly. This salad was the recipe I finally picked out to use it. I didn’t end up making the pad thai as I was having a hard time getting over fish sauce. Silly? Possibly. I just can’t get my mind over adding fish sauce to anything. Have you smelled it by itself?

But this? This salad and the dressing were both awesome. In fact, we had enough salad for 4 meals, but only enough dressing for two. My husband was eating it with a spoon. That said, I am excited about the possibilities for this recipe. It was fresh. Light. Simple. Fast. Sounds like the perfect summer meal, and I’m sure we will end up making it all summer.

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The salad itself is just chopping vegetables. I did use actual heads of romaine lettuce, but I’m sure you could swap out prepared salad mix to make it slightly quicker. I mixed the dressing in a small bowl using just a whisk, but you could probably also add this to a blender (or even a smoothie cup) if you wanted to make it easier too.

If you never use ginger, my tip is to buy a piece and freeze it. Then when it is time to make the dressing, you can just peel it and use it on a microplane while frozen. My last tip. Don’t skip the salted cashews (and the salt is key)!

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Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Thai Cashew Chopped Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing
From The Recipe Critic

Ingredients:
2 heads Romaine lettuce, rinsed and chopped
1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
15-20 sliced baby carrots
1/2 cup frozen edamame, thawed
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup salted cashews

Ginger Peanut Dressing:
1/3 cup sweet thai chili peanut butter (see Sprelly)
2 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
water to thin (I used about 2 Tbsp)

In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, honey, ginger, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the salad ingredients through the green onions. Toss. Top with the cashews and dressing.

Make-Ahead Veggie Breakfast Casserole

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Last week we had a little “going away” breakfast party for a couple of the guys at work who were leaving us. I work with a pretty big group of people, so it is always fun to do a work potluck where I you to eat a little bit of a whole bunch of different foods!

There were already quite a few people signed up to bring breakfast ‘sweets’ – bagels, muffins, doughnuts. So I was looking for something on the savory side that would be easy to transport. The only caveat to this was due to dietary restrictions, it would be much easier to have the dish be vegetarian. Enter the idea for an egg casserole, except I needed a recipe. My dad has made one growing up, but it always contained Polish sausage and would be a bit plain without the meat.

In a recipe search, I came across this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction that looked pretty customizable. Bonus in that it was make-ahead because let me be honest. I already had to bake this and be into work by 6:30 that morning. And I don’t function too well in the morning any earlier than that.

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I mostly used her recipe as a base, swapping and adding things where I thought it might be good. As mentioned above, I did not add any meat, thus I ended up adding some shredded hash browns to the cooked veggie mixture in an attempt to ‘heft’ the casserole up a touch. Other than no mushrooms, I largely followed her veggie list, adding only a jalapeño that happened to be in my fridge. I used normal sandwich bread for the bread in the recipe, although I’m sure any type of bakery loaf you may have would be awesome here as well. Just know that it can work with the bread you normally have in the house too 🙂

On the bake time, I will say to watch it closely. I also baked mine on the longer side, 53 minutes to be exact, as I was concerned about ensuring the middle was cooked (particularly as I had added the potatoes). The eggs themselves were not over baked, however the bottom of the casserole was more of a dark tan color. I might shave a few minutes off that next time and keep it closer to the 48-50min range. Keep in mind, if the casserole has a chance to cool off for a bit, it will seem to ‘set up’ more as well. I cannot speak to reheating as the casserole did not make it until lunch at work, but I have had success reheating egg bakes in the past. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Make-Ahead Veggie Breakfast Casserole
Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 bell peppers of any color, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10 oz) pkg baby spinach
1/3 to 1/2 pkg frozen shredded hash browns
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of bread (any type desired), torn into bite-sized pieces
10 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Non-stick spray

Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil. When warm, add the bell peppers, onions, and jalapeño and sautĂ© for 4-5 mintues, or until crisp-tender. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the potatoes and cook until warmed through (this should help get out any extra water). Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set the vegetables aside.

Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Add the torn bread in a (mostly) single layer over the bottom of the pan.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Stir in 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour half of the egg mixture over the bread. Top with the vegetables and cover with the remaining egg mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the casserole.

Spray the bottom of a piece of aluminum foil with non-stick spray. Cover the casserole and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Remove and allow to come to room temperature prior to baking.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the casserole, uncovered, until the top is golden, the edges are crispy, and the middle appears to be set or about 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool as desired (will ‘set up’ slightly more as it cools).

Meal Plan – Week 3

I’m hoping this last weekend was our last bout of cooler weather here. It’s warmed up again since, and I was able to go for a run outside last night in shorts and a tank. I know this isn’t true for all, but I am such a warm weather girl! I should throw out an over-under on how long it will be before I have a sock tan line…

Here’s what I’m planning for our meals this week (nothing too special as I’m working this weekend):

I’ve been on a thai kick with last week’s peanut butter, but this Thai Cashew Chopped Salad with a Ginger Peanut Sauce looks awesome. Also loving that there’s no fish sauce!

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White Bean Vegetable Pizza from The Cookin’ Chemist

Whole-Grain Veggie Burrito Bowls – from April’s Cooking Light. Sounds like an upgrade to our go-to quick dinner burrito bowls

Chicken Shawarma Fries with Mediterranean Salsa with Garlic Sauce from Iowa Girl Eats. Not 100% sure if I’ll make this over fries or over rice, but it looks great! After looking at last week’s Friday Favorites, I seem to be on a fries kick.

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Grilled Vegetable Masala Burgers from Trader Joes topped with feta cheese spread and served with grilled veggies. So good. We first tried these burgers topped with the dip around a year ago, and TJs was sold out of the burgers for weeks after that. So glad we’ve been able to get them recently. The burgers are good on their own, but the feta dip makes it.

Enjoy!

Friday Favorites

Ahh… It’s girls’ weekend. In about T-6 hours (or at least until we all arrive)! I’m leaving the hubbs to fend for itself this weekend and meeting up with a few of my undergraduate girlfriends in Nashville. I haven’t seen a couple of them FOREVER (bonus that I get to meet a new little one in the group!)

So, cheers to the weekend. Here’s what I’m loving right now!

I am pretty much obsessed with anything sweet potato, but how awesome do these Mexican Loaded Sweet Potato Fries from A Couple Cooks look?!?

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I came across this video on Facebook this week with the tag line, “Today I wish for something to make me as happy as this dog is about his dinner.” Number one: please watch the video. Number two: this completely made my day. What a great philosophy on life.

Cake Batter Cookie Pie by Crazy for Crust. Enough said. I’m pretty sure I’d volunteer to be her taste tester! I love so many of her recipes.

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Have you done Stitch Fix? I like them, but haven’t ordered a box in quite awhile (I am not signed up for a recurring schedule). I ran across this dress from Stitch Fix this week, and I’m thinking it may be time for a new fix.

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My Grandma has always made Kolaches growing up. I was talking about this recipe with my Dad this week, and he sent me Grandma’s recipe. So, possibly Kolaches coming soon! This recipe from My Baking Addiction looks pretty good in its own accord.

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Roasted Poblano Salsa Chicken Enchiladas

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First of all, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I have a very non-Irish dinner idea for tonight.

One thing my husband will readily tell you is that I’ve never been the cleanest cook. There’s a reason the dogs in this house hang around in the kitchen if I’m working in there. Nonetheless, please tell me I am not the only person who gets cilantro EVERYWHERE whenever I try to use it in my kitchen. Chopping it is the worst. I swear I’ll find it for days after I thought I had cleaned it up. I thought I would be smart making the salsa for these enchiladas and just add it to my blender straight off the bunch. I was going to blend it anyway, right? No, there was still cilantro on the floor and somehow on the opposite kitchen counter…

This becomes a real problem for me as Mexican/southwest flavors are some of my favorite things for dinner.

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Enter these enchiladas from Iowa Girl Eats. I wish you could even just smell this salsa over the blog world. So. Good. I warmed up a leftover enchilada for lunch this week, and all of my coworkers were wondering what smelled so good!

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The entirety of this dish does take a little bit to put together. First, you make the salsa, then cook the chicken, grate the cheese (ugh, but worth it), assemble, and bake. I really think the salsa is what makes this dish. I almost can’t wait to make this again this summer with some garden tomatoes as it was great with mid-March grocery store tomatoes. Don’t substitute traditional enchilada sauce here. It isn’t hard and is worth the time. Find a day/weekend where you can set aside time to make it. I promise you won’t regret it!

I’m sure you could make these quicker by making the salsa and chicken ahead of time. IGE recommends that it can be made up to 3 days in advance, but I’m finding myself wondering if it would be freezable as that would make the time commitment for this next to nothing (probably almost a 30 minute meal).

Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Roasted Poblano Salsa Chicken Enchiladas
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients:
For the Roasted Poblano Salsa:
1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 poblano pepper
1 small red onion, peeled and halved
1 head garlic, top 1/4-inch sliced off to reveal cloves
1/4 cup packed cilantro
1 lime, juiced
1 Tbsp. salt
1-2 tsp. black pepper

For the Enchiladas:
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 – 1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 – 1 tsp. black pepper
8-10 fajita-sized whole wheat tortillas
8oz freshly shredded Queso Quesadilla (by refrigerated tortillas at the store)

For the Cucumber Pico de Gallo:
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1 lime, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

For the salsa, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Add tomatoes, poblano pepper, and onion to the baking sheet then brush with extra virgin olive oil to coat. Place the head of garlic in the middle of a smaller piece of foil and drizzle generously with olive oil. Seal the garlic into a pouch of foil and place on the baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, flipping everything but the garlic halfway through. Decrease the heat on the oven to 350 degrees.

Once cool enough to handle, transfer the tomatoes and onion to a food processor or blender. Cut the top off the poblano pepper and remove any seeds and membranes. Add to the blender. Squeeze all of the garlic cloves out into the blender (they should be soft). Add cilantro, lime juice, 1 Tbsp. salt, and 1 tsp. black pepper. Process until smooth then taste and add more salt and/or pepper if desired.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, onions, garlic salt, and black pepper and sauté until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside.

Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Spread 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the prepared salsa into the bottom of the dish. Wrap each tortilla with a scoop of the chicken, 1-2 Tbsp. of salsa, and 1-2 Tbsp. shredded cheese. Place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat until all the ingredients have been used. Cover the enchiladas with salsa; you may have some salsa leftover. Top the enchiladas with the remaining cheese and eat the remaining salsa with chips if desired.

Spray a large piece of foil with non-stick spray and cover the baking dish (with spray-side down). Bake for 20 minutes. Switch oven to broil, remove the foil, and cook 2-3 minutes longer or until the cheese begins to brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes after baking.

While the enchiladas are baking, add the remaining chopped tomatoes, cucumber, jalapeño, onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper to a small bowl. Toss to combine. Top each enchilada serving with a scoop of pico de gallo.

Meal Plan – Week 2

There’s a couple from a town a few hours away from here that sells their own nut butter blends. We ran into them at a festival here almost 2 years ago and have been fans since. I believe they’re hoping to open a restaurant in Fredericksburg, VA soon selling sandwiches and crepes. You can guarantee that I’ll be heading that way soon after it opens. Check them out! The business name is Sprelly, and they’ll ship their products. The white chocolate almond butter comes highly recommended. It makes English Muffins my favorite breakfast food and is also quite good on spoons 🙂

I tell you that to tell you this. I have a container of Sweet Thai Peanut Butter from Sprelly in my pantry, and it needs to be made into some type of peanut-sauce stir fry. If you have any “must try” recipes, I’d love them! I’m thinking maybe this Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry with Amazing Peanut Sauce from Skinny Mommy?

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Pepperoni, Onion, Pepper, and Black Olive Pizza on Whole Wheat Dough

Reuben’s – Maybe not so Irish, but the corned beef is!

This Baked Rigatoni with Sausage and Spinach by Real Food by Dad looks amazing as well!

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Roasted Sweet Potato, Pinto Bean, and Swiss Chard Tacos by The Cookin’ Chemist (although it looks like these photos desperately need updated).

Enjoy!

Frozen Biscoff Pie

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3.14. It’s Pi Day! And yes, I am enough of a nerd to bring a pie today. You are talking to the girl who still carries around her TI-89 at work (Much to the dismay of my medical teams. I get a lot of crap for it, but how else are you suppose to use the natural log function!).  I’m only sad I wasn’t paying much attention last year (3.1415 for 3/14/15)…

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This pie. This is one of those recipes I wouldn’t really need a reason to make. A true pie, complete with pie crust, still scares me enough that it’s only something I would think to attempt for celebrations/holidays. But combine Biscoff with anything, and I’m on board. In all honesty, I’m truly making this to take to work today for our Pi Day at work, but I can tell you the hubbs begged me to make two so he could have a piece 🙂

I’ve actually made this pie a few times. It’s a recipe from Crazy for Crust, and it’s one of the easiest desserts I’ve made. Graham cracker crust, baked for a few minutes, mix just 3 ingredients together, top, and freeze. Done. You probably could start with a pre-made graham cracker crust if you wanted, although I do think adding Biscoff into the crust is a stroke of genius.

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A few tips. The crust can end up a little crumbly, so be sure to pack it into the pan. There is quite a bit of crust mixture, so I’ve found using a deep-dish pie pan works best. When mixing the filling, be sure to have the ingredients ready to go as it is easier to work quick. Also, be careful spreading out the filling as not to disturb the crust. It is pliable enough it would probably spread out into the pie on its own if you left it. Lastly, the extra whipped topping will spread further if you chill the filling a bit before adding it. I did not in the pies above, so I just have a little smaller circle.

Ahh… frozen desserts. Now that it’s light longer, I promise summer is coming! Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Frozen Biscoff Pie
From Crazy for Crust

Ingredients:
For the Crust:
2 oz. white chocolate
4 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. Biscoff
2 cups graham cracker crumbs

For the Filling:
1/2 cup Biscoff
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. whipped topping, divided

For the Topping Swirl:
1 oz. white chocolate
1 Tbsp. Biscoff

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in the microwave. Then add the white chocolate and Biscoff, stirring ever 15 seconds, until melted and well blended. Stir in graham cracker crumbs. Press into a 9″ pie pan. Bake for 8 minutes and cool completely before filling.

Place 1/2 cup Biscoff in a microwave-safe bowl. Have ingredients measured and ready to go. Heat for 20 seconds to allow it to soften.Reserve 1/2 cup whipped topping. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Fold the remaining whipped topping into the Biscoff-sweetened condensed milk mixture. If it doesn’t seem to be mixing well, you can use a hand mixer here. Pour into the prepared crust. Top with reserved whipped topping. It may not reach all the way to the edges. Chill the pie first if you’d like it to cover more area.

Melt white chocolate and Biscoff together in a small microwave-safe bowl. Pour into a sealable sandwich bag and snip one corner. Pipe as desired on the top of the pie. Freeze pie for at least 4 hours or for overnight before slicing.